By TOM WILLIAMS
If somebody were to refer to the 2019-20 Ocean City High School boys basketball team as The Brady Bunch it would be understandable.
Junior guard Gannon Brady led all players in the Cape-Atlantic League with 21.9 points per game and was third in South Jersey. His 590 points was the most by a junior in school history, topping Bob McAllister’s 513 in 1987-88. He had 19 games when he scored 20 or more points, two short of Derrick Yeoman’s school record in a season. He was the 10th Ocean City player to score 40 points in a game and the first in 25 years. And he will enter his senior year as the school’s 14th highest career scorer needing 87 points to reach 1,000.
No doubt about it. Brady used his step-back and pull-up three-pointer and his baseline drives finishing with a reverse layup with either hand into a great season. He also led the team in steals, was second in assists and third in rebounds.
But Brady did not compile Ocean City’s 17-10 record by himself. He had help from a talented group of athletes and the first eight of them will be back next year with high expectations.
Junior Mike Rhodes led the team in rebounds and blocked shots and made 62 percent of his shots, missing the school record held by J.D. Asselta by six one-hundredths of a point.
Sophomore Tom Finnegan averaged 10.8 points a game and was second on the team in rebounds and blocks. The length-of-the-court fastball passes to Brady by the highly-recruited baseball pitcher were among the season’s most memorable plays (along with Joe Repetti ‘s buzzer-beater at Cedar Creek).
Repetti, a junior who missed seven games nursing injuries, was the team’s leading foul shooter and was second in steals and third in assists.
Junior Brad Jamison brought his athleticism to the court at both ends, playing physical defense and leading the team in assists.
Those were the starters. But a trio of juniors gave John Bruno a lot of options. Ben Hoag made many clutch players throughout the season. Brady Rauner brought great defensive intensity to the game. And Will Drain, who missed four games late in the season, could replace Rhodes, Finnegan or Jamison and maintain quality.
Rhodes, Repetti, Jamison, Rauner and Drain were also successful football players so, when the ball was on the floor, they would revert to the fumble drill and OCHS ended up with more than its share of those loose balls.
And seniors Sam Burns and Matt Rebock contributed when needed, Burns leading the team shooting 46 percent from three-point range and Rebock making 58 percent of all his shots.
The Raiders finished second to Mainland in the National Conference, reached the CAL Tournament for the fifth straight year and advanced to the second round of the NJSIAA Group 3 Tournament. Their losses included two South Jersey champs (Wildwood Catholic and Atlantic City) another South Jersey finalist (Haddonfield) and the Philadelphia Public League champions (Math Civics & Science).
The schedule will look a little different next season. With Hammonton re-joining the CAL, the league re-aligned. It was a little drastic and somewhat random. The Raiders will no longer be in the National conference with Mainland, Holy Spirit, Oakcrest, Lower Cape May and Cedar Creek. Instead, OCHS will be in the American Conference and play two conference games each with Wildwood Catholic, Atlantic City, Middle Township, Cape May Tech, Bridgeton and the lone returning team, Absegami.
Ocean City completed a successful season in 2020 and, regardless of the schedule next winter, they return probably more key players than any school in South Jersey and might be preparing for a memorable season.
FREE THROWS: Gannon Brady joined four other OCHS players who led the CAL in scoring – Matt Bosch (2012), LaQue Lee (1995), Derrick Yeoman (1991) and Gary Satrappe (1961)….John Bruno completed his 31st season with a 428-360 career record, fourth all-time in the CAL in wins behind Paul Rodio, Tom Feraco and Ken Leary. This year he earned his 200th home court win, his 50th win in Wildwood holiday tournaments and improved his first round NJSIAA record to 16-6….Mike Rhodes made history this season by becoming the first CAL player to shoot free throws underhanded in at least 50 years. Through the first 16 games he was 13 for 58 (22.4%) shooting one-handed. He switched to underhand at Absegami on Feb. 6 and finished the season shooting 16 for 31 (51.6%) underhanded. But the highlight was crowd reactions. Raider Nation was very excited with every one he made and opposing fans were seen recording his shots on their phones….special thanks to Bruce Beaver, Ron Moretti, Ed Terry and Craig Mensinger for conducting the half-court shooting challenges at halftime that raised hundreds of dollars for Coaches vs Cancer. Ocean City raised more than $5000 overall this year for the cause from those halftime shots and the Butch Gleason Memorial CVC Day, an all-time high….